By SEAN I. MILLS Staff writer
The Rome man accused of taking a woman prisoner and raping her repeatedly in his First Street apartment started a shouting match with a County Court judge at his arraignment this morning, claiming that his Constitutional rights had been violated.
John N. Santoro’s impromptu civics lesson was set straight by Judge Barry M. Donalty, who told the accused rapist to "just be quiet now."
Santoro didn’t listen.
Instead, he shouted angrily at the 28-year-old victim as he was dragged from the courtroom.
"You deserve this (victim’s name), not me!" Santoro yelled at the woman sitting in the back.
Santoro, 24, of 108 First St., started the hearing by demanding that the charges against him be read out loud. Defense attorney David Cooke, as a matter of routine, had waived the reading, because he could simply tell Santoro the charges in private later. But Santoro insisted, with the judge’s anger quickly rising at Santoro’s volatile attitude.
"Read them!" the judge ordered the prosecutor.
Santoro is charged with three counts of first-degree rape and one count each of first-degree criminal sexual act, third-degree aggravated sexual abuse, second-degree kidnapping and first-degree imprisonment.
On the night of June 9, the 28-year-old woman visited with Santoro at his apartment, leading to an argument. Authorities said Santoro then bound the woman’s wrists and ankles and stuffed her in a large duffle bag, holding her prisoner throughout the night. On at least two occasions, police said Santoro untied the woman and raped her.
Santoro is also accused of sodomizing the woman with a liquor bottle.
Authorities said the woman was able to escape the next morning, after Santoro had fallen asleep. She ran to a nearby store to call for help while Santoro fled to Utica. He was picked up by law enforcers in Utica on the night of June 10.
"I didn’t do what this girl is saying I did!" Santoro shouted at the judge, claiming that he had proof. However, Santoro claimed that he was denied an opportunity to present his proof at a felony exam in Rome City Court. The District Attorney’s Office presented Santoro’s case to a grand jury before the felony exam, which Santoro claimed violated his Constitutional rights.
"There is no Constitutional right to a felony exam, so get that out of your head!" Donalty shouted back at Santoro.
Attorney Cooke entered a not guilty plea to Santoro’s charges, and Donalty adjourned the case for a report to July 31.
But Santoro was not done arguing. He claimed that the victim’s companion is a law student, and one of his teachers works at the District Attorney’s Office. Santoro claimed that this presented a clear conflict of interest in his case, and that he should have a special prosecutor.
"What does that have to do with what happened on June 10?" Donalty asked, before telling Santoro to "just be quiet now."